Date: Mon, 3 Nov 1997 15:24:00 +0000

From: Lynne Murphy M_Lynne_Murphy[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]BAYLOR.EDU

Subject: Re: "race"

i haven't been paying a lot of attention to the 'race' conversation,

although i should have been doing just that (as i've done a bit of

writing on the subject and will likely do more before someone decides to

stop me). so, i hope i don't repeat what's been said already but here

are a bunch of vaguely related thoughts on the topic:

1. stephen jay gould has some very accessible arguments against racial

classification on any kind of biological basis, especially in his book

_the mismeasure of man_.

2. one thing that argues against the existence of biological races is

the fact that there is more genetic variation within races than across

them, which is to say that any member of one 'race' probably has more in

common (genetically speaking) with the average characteristics of

another 'race' than with any other individual in her/his own 'race'.

3. similarly, some of the things that are seen as 'markers' of 'races'

are actually found only partially in some 'races' and often across

'races'. for instance, whites have prominent noses, but you could

probably find some prominent nosed black africans as well. a better

example: sickle cell anemia is considered to be a "negroid" disease,

but the gene for it is not found in the xhosa people of south africa

(nelson mandela's ethnic group) but it IS found in many mediterranean

('white') people.

4. many, if not most, anthropologists (the people who brought us 'race'

as a science--or at least their precursors did) today do not believe

that human races exist. cultural anthropologists, not surprisingly, are

much less inclined to believe in 'race' than physical anthropologists.

sorry, i don't have the exact figures, but work on anthropologists'

views on race has been published in several places by reynolds and

lieberman (and by one or the other alone as well--can't think of their

first names either--my books and files are still not here from my move

in july).

back to work; thanks for the break.



M. Lynne Murphy

Assistant Professor in Linguistics

Department of English

Baylor University

PO Box 97404

Waco, TX 76798